Glossary term

Air Quality

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Definition 1

Air Quality means the condition of air in and around a given location, in particular the extent to which it is clean, clear and free from pollutants including smog, smoke, industrial gases and dust.

Drafting notes and guidance

Wide definition for general application

This is general definition of air quality that is unlikely to change between jurisdictions.

Global differences in measuring air quality

Globally, air quality is measured and forecast empirically using air quality indices which vary by country. These indices match observed pollutant concentration data against epidemiological outcomes. For example, in Australia, each state and territory compiles a daily Ambient Air Quality index using the standards published by the National Environmental Protection Council. The Ambient Air Quality index is compiled by aggregating the concentrations for each of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulphur dioxide, lead and particulate matter (small particles of certain sizes, including dust). Index values correspond to health advice.

In the EU, air quality is regulated under the Air Quality Directive 2008 (2008/50/EC). The Directive sets standards for ambient air quality covering 8 pollutants including sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulates and ozone. it requires member states to actively assess and manage the ambient air quality in different areas or zones within their territory. EU member states then report air quality data to the EU Commission.

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